If you are someone looking to expand your professional opportunities or want to research job opportunities in various markets, analyzing local job markets is a great way to secure a thorough understanding of other opportunities.
This action is vital if you plan to move geographically, including securing a new job. To grasp the importance of this analysis, and to know which areas to research when looking into different job markets, read through the following information.
What is a job market?
A job market is a complex environment; it is best first to understand the concept itself. Unlike a physical marketplace, a job market is where supply and demand (companies) are engaged. This includes, but is not limited to, economic activity, industry trends, and skillsets/levels of education. The onset of new businesses drives the demand for more accounting and finance personnel to operate these divisions.
Why is it important to understand your local job market?
Understanding the job market, specifically in your area, helps job seekers understand competition within their industries of interest and assists in forming a more accurate career plan. The job market's health reflects the economy's overall health and can help predict trends.
How do I find local job market information?
Depending on your location, you will find information about your local job market from various sources. J2T serves the Colorado and Montana market and has information relating to these markets on the company blog.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website provides information on local job markets pertinent to your area. This information falls broader than connecting with a local recruitment agency. However, it can give you more information about the area in which you reside.
The BLS is a governmental service that provides information that measures market activity, working conditions, price changes, and productivity for the United Stated economy to support public and private decision-making. On the BLS website, you can find pertinent information about localized areas:
In conjunction with the United States Department of Labor website, this will allow you to peruse state/local workforce data, current data categorized by geography and industry, and other relevant information for analyzing current job markets.
These are publications that are intended for a particular audience, ranging from niche or audiences that encompass an entire market.
Industry or company blogs
Blogs straight from a company you are interested in working for or blogs that encompass an industry in general help you stay up to date on industry trends, news, and the thoughts of various sources on relevant topics.
Online forums or message boards are discussion sites where people can hold conversations in the form of instant messages. These forums act as centralized locations for discussions on the same topic and provide a space within which experts can explain concepts and ideas to lesser informed users.
Staying up to date with local news in the area of the market you are analyzing is an excellent way to stay current on business news and other happenings in general.
LinkedIn groups are hubs that provide a place for professionals in the same industry to share content, post and view jobs, make network connections, find answers, and establish themselves as industry experts on various subject matters. Joining these groups and actively participating with others in the group can help your professional development and expand your business network.
Hidden job market
The “hidden job market” refers to jobs not advertised publicly by employers. Employers often opt out of publicly promoting jobs to save time reviewing job applications/interviewing and the costs associated with posting. To fill positions that are not publicly advertised, employers may hire internally, use an employee referral program, or hire a third-party recruitment agency. In addition to saving costs, working with a recruitment agency can help ensure only high-quality candidates are presented, as the recruiter associated with the search understands the needs of the company and its’ requirements for a candidate.
How does someone become part of the hidden job market?
Accessing the hidden job market can provide a significant opportunity for professionals. Effective networking is the best way to tap into the hidden job market, as it builds connections that may allow you to learn about unseen opportunities.
This job market is not exclusive to opportunities outside of your current employment. Many companies prefer to promote from within, and if you are looking for a job change, it is often beneficial to inquire about available positions within the company you already work for. Connecting with colleagues from other departments and developing these relationships by maintaining contact can lead to greater information on open opportunities.
It is important to note that gathering this information discreetly is sometimes beneficial. Suppose you are already employed at the company, depending on your relationship with your supervisor. In that case, you may not want to disclose early on that you are open to other opportunities within the company. Once an opportunity arises that you would like to apply, bringing this information to your supervisor and having a conversation about your intentions is essential. This helps maintain your relationship and invites them to prepare for filing your previous position should you be granted the new opportunity.
Another method of gaining access to the hidden job market is reaching out to your existing contacts. Consistent communication about your interest in new opportunities is helpful to keep the conversations alive. Sharing your goal of securing a unique employment opportunity among your professional connections and emphasizing the type of job you are seeking and associated fields can bring about options that are not always advertised.
Connecting with recruiters internally within the company or externally through third-party agencies is an excellent way to learn about hidden jobs. You should identify companies of interest and associated titles you are seeking before connecting with recruiters. Many recruiting firms use social media (such as LinkedIn) to find candidates, meaning keeping your professional profile up to date and engaged is helpful when searching for a new opportunity. Knowing what keywords are relevant to your experience and future experiences you hope to achieve is useful, as recruiters often search keywords when analyzing the market for candidates.
Contacting employers directly, instead of waiting for jobs to be posted, is an excellent way to show initiative and learn about non-public opportunities. Emailing, cold calling, or reaching out on social media can connect you with potential employers at companies you want to work for. Initial interactions with potential employers are opportunities to showcase your skills early on and highlight your relevant accomplishments to their company. A thorough understanding of the company’s mission, values, and culture before reaching out to a hiring manager or other decision-maker helps show your alignment with the company.
Companies often attend industry events; therefore, attending ones associated with your position, current industry, or industry of interest is an opportunity to network and create connections with industry professionals and potential decision-makers. Events often release a list of attending companies, making researching attendees an option to expand your knowledge and successfully network. Keeping business cards and securing others’ contact information helps expand your network and get involved with others in the same industry.
Lastly, keeping up to date with the companies you seek to work with can help you stand out among others interested in working at the company. Companies often release blogs, newsletters, or other updates that give an insider view of the happenings within the organization. With this information, you can stay current with where companies are headed and even better understand where the industry may go.
How to analyze a local job market
Analyzing a local job market involves performing a labor market analysis, where information is gathered to understand better data related to employment and the workforce in general. This information should include:
- Size and characteristics of the labor market
- Labor supply and demand
- Job trends by industry
- Analyzing job requirements and trends specific to your industry, such as accounting or finance
- The growth and the current size of the industry
- Earnings by industry and associated wages (See J2T’s blog for a 2022 finance and accounting salary guide.)
- Workforce demographics by industry and occupation
- Current job-posting data
- Identify market trends: Ancillary pay, unemployment, education level, job growth, in-demand occupations, and other similar areas.
The benefits of understanding your industry
Understanding the industry you choose to operate in is highly beneficial. Whether you own your own business, work as an independent contractor, or are employed by a company, understanding industry trends in your local area helps you stay competitive. It allows you to understand players in the market, add opportunities to your professional portfolio, and keep up to date. The following are four benefits that can accompany a thorough understanding of your industry.
Target the correct audience
Industry trends show what companies are expanding, which goods/services are slowing down, emerging industry-specific technologies, and new requirements within your sector of interest. Awareness of these areas can allow you to best capture your target audience and use that information to promote your company or the company that employs you.
Promote your brand
Knowing where your ideal customers reside, where those in your network congregate, which social media platforms are utilized in your industry, and where pertinent news is promoted can allow you to choose the best networking opportunities to promote your professional brand. Engaging in these ways will enable you to positively influence your reputation and network with others in related fields.
Different markets accept different prices, no matter the good or service. Knowing industry insights and customer price sensitivity within the job market you seek can help you secure and retain clients, attract more, and choose whom you want to do business with.
Optimization through technology
Technology is becoming integrated across all industries and is constantly evolving to create better user experiences. Following new technologies and thinking about how to incorporate them into your company or those you hope to work for can help increase your productivity and value added to a company.
Analyzing a local job market when deciding upon a new industry, geographic location, or job opportunity is an integral part of making an informed decision. To confidently choose, it is essential to call upon and expand your professional network, observe industry trends, and gather other forms of industry information, including gaining access to a hidden job market in your area of interest. By expanding your resources and considering the suggestions above, you can set yourself up to choose a professional option that best meets your needs.
Written by Lauren Kemp
Lauren Kemp, Communications and Marketing Specialist at J2T, earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management with a minor in Latin American studies and a Master of Science in Innovation and Management from Montana State University. Lauren hails from Montana and enjoys reading about the history of her home state. Her bucket-list items include touring the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and taking an immersion trip to Chile to experience Latin American culture first-hand.